Being accepted to college is an exciting achievement for many New Yorkers, and an important milestone for many Americans. Many students will be living on their own for the first time and must face the challenges that come along with such a change, including managing allergies without help from parents or family members.
Thankfully, today many schools are well educated on allergies (though some may offer more comprehensive allergy safety policies and procedures). Due to increased awareness and safety programs its possible to have an allergy-friendly and safe college experience almost anywhere.
Here are some tips for managing allergies on campus:
Ask yourself the tough questions.
How responsible are you really when it comes to managing your allergies on your own? Do you always remember to carry your EpiPen or emergency inhaler? Do you take your medications without needing someone to remind you? Are you confident enough to speak up to a dining hall employee about your food allergy? Do you feel comfortable educating your roommate and friends about your allergy and instructing them on how to administer your emergency medications? Can you make an appointment with a local allergist if necessary?
Get comfortable in the dining hall.
If you’ll be having the majority of your meals at the campus dining hall, don’t be shy when it comes to introducing yourself to foodservice employees and telling them about your allergy. You should also feel comfortable asking about ingredients or hidden allergens in prepared foods. Learn in advance what accommodations are available to students with food allergies and sensitivities. You should also learn to read ingredient labels and if you’re ever unsure about a dish, skip it.
Additionally, if you have access to a kitchen and have the ability to cook your own meals, take time to learn which supermarkets are in the area and create weekly allergy-friendly meal plans for yourself.
Understand your housing options.
Most college students live in dorms during the school year, but an apartment is also an option if you would feel more comfortable with more control over your living situation. If you have a roommate be sure to educate them about your allergy and ensure that they understand how serious your allergy can be. Teach them the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction and tell them what to do in case of a future emergency. You should also make sure that your resident advisor has this information as well.
Talk to the doctor.
Make an appointment to speak with the medical staff on campus. In addition to sharing information and medical records about your allergy you’ll want to find out what procedures and policies the school has in place for dealing with allergies and allergic reactions. Also get the address of the nearest hospital and put necessary phone numbers into your cell phone contacts.
College is a fun, exciting time for many students and you don’t need to miss out on the opportunity just because you have allergies. With the proper management, care, and communication you’ll be able to get the most out of your college experience.
If you suspect you have allergies or have questions about other resources available to people with allergies, give us a call. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.